New drones and unmanned systems initiative announced for Florida public safety agencies

The International Airborne Response Team (AIRT), the leading 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization supporting the use of unmanned systems for public safety and disaster response – and the official headquarters of DRONERESPONDERS® – partnered with AUVSI Florida Peninsula Chapter, Inc., a 501 (c) 6 nonprofit and a subdivision of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), the world’s leading nonprofit dedicated to the use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) and robotic vehicles, to launch a new public safety initiative for the benefit of Florida first responders.

As part of the cooperative agreement, the two organizations are creating a model to support state-wide public safety and emergency service organizations using unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and d other autonomous, remotely controlled technologies used to save lives and protect property.

Marked as part of AIRT’s non-profit DRONERESPONDERS program, the Florida Public Safety Coordination Group of DRONERESPONDERS will establish the framework for public safety agencies and emergency service organizations to work directly with the industry, government and academia through the combined expertise of AIRT and AUVSI members at the regional level.

DRONERESPONDERS Public Safety Coordination Groups (DPSCGs) will operate in the United States statewide with the support of AUVSI chapters and other designated partners. The main objectives of the DPSCG will be to:1. Support the education, adoption and use of remotely piloted, unmanned and autonomous systems by public safety and emergency service organizations at the regional (state) level within established legal and acceptable community standards .

2. Increase public awareness and understanding of the value of drones, robotics and related technologies with a greater focus on underserved communities.

3. Provide a mechanism for the government to work directly with industry and academia at the regional level to stimulate innovation and better serve the entire community in times of emergency and crisis.

“We have witnessed an incredible proliferation of the use of unmanned technology by public safety agencies at the national and local levels,” said John Lambert, president of the AUVSI Florida Peninsula chapter. “Our collaboration with DRONERESPONDERS will help us support our first responders who use these systems while also allowing us to better educate the general population on the value these systems can provide during emergencies and disasters. “

The DRONERESPONDERS Florida Public Safety Coordination Group will be led by a collaborative team of UAS program managers from public safety agencies across the state of Florida. Sgt. Robert Dooley, unmanned aerial vehicle program coordinator for the Florida Highway Patrol, will begin as the initial point of contact for Florida law enforcement agencies operating UASs, while Rich Gatanis, firefighter, hazardous materials technician and UAS program coordinator for the Southern Manatee Fire & Rescue District, will serve as a liaison for fire departments using drones and robotic systems.

“This new collaboration combining the power of the DRONERESPONDERS network with the regional chapters of AUVSI will establish a new model for government, industry and universities to work together for the greater good,” said Chief Charles Werner ( retired), director of DRONERESPONDERS. “We are excited to establish this model in Florida before expanding it to other states. “

Florida Public Safety and Emergency Services personnel with operational or oversight responsibility for unmanned systems or related technologies are invited to join the Florida Public Safety Coordination Group DRONERESPONDERS by contacting [email protected] or by visiting

About AIRT

Based in Miami, Florida, AIRT® (Airborne International Response Team) is the leading 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization supporting the use of unmanned systems for public safety and disaster response. AIRT offers a wide range of educational programs, training events and mission critical deployments in support of public safety UAS operations and designed to help people prepare, respond and recover from ‘complex emergencies and major disasters. AIRT is the official home of DRONERESPONDERS®. For more information visit: or

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